Hit and miss for Aussie teens
Ashleigh Barty of Australia plays a forehand in her women's singles first round match between Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2012 in Paris, France. Photo: Getty Images
Teenage tennis prodigy Bernard Tomic is surprising even himself with his rapid development on clay.
The youngest player in the men's French Open draw, 19-year-old Tomic marked his maiden grand slam seeding with an overdue breakthrough win at Roland Garros yesterday morning.
''It's been a while. It feels great,'' said Tomic after his impressive 7-6 (7-5), 6-3, 6-3 win over Austrian qualifier Andreas Haider-Maurer.
Ashleigh Barty of Australia serves in her women's singles first round match between Ashleigh Barty of Australia and Petra Kvitova of Czech Republic during day three of the French Open at Roland Garros on May 29, 2012 in Paris, France. Photo: Getty Images
''Having played a few times and lost first round, it was a bit difficult - and especially at a young age, I think getting wildcards here was not my go.''
Tomic had barely won a claycourt match before arriving in Europe last month, but has since chalked up seven victories on the slow red surface.
''It went better than I hoped. I struggled in matches last year and, the year before, I couldn't win a match on clay,'' the 2011 Wimbledon quarter-finalist said.
''Now to have played six, seven weeks and I've gone into some tournaments in the quarters and basically every tournament I played, I won a round - except Madrid.
''So it's good.
''I'm moving good. My body is feeling much stronger and I think this is going to help me a lot for the grasscourt season.''
In hot and windy conditions on the unprotected court 16, Tomic rebounded from dropping his opening service game to dust up Haider-Maurer in straight sets.
Tomic next faces Santiago Giraldo, a Colombian he beat two weeks ago in Rome.
''It's a good opportunity,'' he said.
''If I can win that match and get into the third round here, it's huge for me.
''I haven't done well in the past, so every win is a bonus. That's the way I look at it.''
A repeat victory over Giraldo could set up a third-round clash with fourth seed Andy Murray.
■ ASHLEIGH Barty's maiden campaign in Paris ended in a 6-1, 6-2 first-round defeat yesterday at the hands of Czech fourth seed Petra Kvitova.
Playing the reigning Wimbledon champion on Court Suzanne Lenglen was always going to be a tall order for the youngest player in either of the singles draws for the claycourt grand slam. And it was all over in 54 minutes as Kvitova capitalised on Barty's obvious butterflies.
The just-turned 16-year-old's nerves were evident in the warm-up when she failed to land 13 straight practice serves. Not surprisingly, the Queenslander then double-faulted on the first point of the match.
Barty's performance was far from all doom and gloom, though.
The Wimbledon junior champion provided Australian tennis fans with a glimpse of the future as she matched Kvitova's back-court firepower for periods of the match.
Barty also showed grit to hold her opening service game with a big ace down the middle after fighting off two break points.
Alas, eight double faults and too many missed dropped shots and netted slice backhands ultimately brought her unstuck. AAP